Why did the Aviva crowd boo Cristiano Ronaldo? To be part of his world

Keith Duggan: For 15 years he has operated in a place beyond normal existence

Cristiano Ronaldo gives his jersey to Addison Whelan (11), who ran onto the pitch after the final whistle at the World Cup qualifier between Ireland and Portugal at Aviva Stadium on Thursday night. Photograph: Ben Brady/Inpho

Cristiano Ronaldo gives his jersey to Addison Whelan (11), who ran onto the pitch after the final whistle at the World Cup qualifier between Ireland and Portugal at Aviva Stadium on Thursday night. Photograph: Ben Brady/Inpho

Even before the football had reached Cristiano Ronaldo’s feet in the opening minutes of Ireland’s game against Portugal on Thursday night, the booing started. It continued throughout the night in the Aviva stadium.

It was a dissonant, unexpected chorus not least because there was no obvious reason for the Irish crowd to boo one of the undisputed sports stars of the 21st century. Was it because there happened to be a large number of Liverpool fans at the game? Was it because Ronaldo had crushed Ireland with those outrageously late goals in the Algarve stadium in September? Or was it simply that the crowd felt uncertain of the correct etiquette for watching a footballer who for 15 years has operated in a place beyond the boundaries of graspable, normal existence?

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